By Theresa Rebeck
Directed by Julia Listengarten
Starring Earl Weaver
Sure, just about anyone can write, but writing so others pay to read your opus is a much bigger trick. A small group of aspiring writers chip in to hire famous yet washed up author Leonard (Weaver) to give them private lessons. They meet in the ridiculously large New York apartment of Kate (Alexandra Pica). With nine bedrooms, a river view and rent stabilized at $800, her joint is better fiction than anything they can pen. Kate’s spent six years working a Jane Austin piece while Douglas (Sebastian Gonzalez) gets feelers from “The New Yorker.” Martin (Logan Ayala) is intimidated by Leonard, and Izzy (Eranthis Rose Quigley) would rather sleep with writers than be one. Leonard is a powerful figure; he even intimidated me and I sat back in Row “E.”
Rare praise is valued more highly, and as Leonard reads his admirer’s pages he drops them on the floor leaving the kids sort out their own work. Rants are routine; he gives one threatening the students with horrible career results and he should know: That’s how his life ends. But one of these four kids has a glimmer of promise, and Leonard ends up editing for this up and comer.
Plays about writing appeal mostly to people in the business; it’s a busman’s holiday thing. This cast was bright and sharp with every foible clearly outlined. Izzy emitted raw sex and Kate old NYC money while Martin took on smugness and Douglas played the wuss. Weaver dominated all of these youngsters and perfectly encapsulated the rage and frustration keyboards can bring on. The set was an impressive wall of modernist art and it cleverly slipped over the castle set still in place for “Lion in Winter.” There’s a voyeuristic charm here; this is the sort of life changing seminar all artists hope to experience, but so few do. It’s a good show full of intellectual exercises that fills that long stretch until the fall season fires up.
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